Former East German communists discuss alliance with Schroeder critics

Leaders of the former East German communist party met Saturday to discuss a possible alliance before expected autumn elections with a new party critical of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's reform drive.

The Party of Democratic Socialism, formerly communist, said it plans to cooperate with the new Election Alternative _ Work and Social Justice party, raising the prospect of a challenge from the left to the German leader.

However, PDS chief Lothar Bisky acknowledged before Saturday's meeting in Berlin that some of his members oppose a link up, which still needs approval from both parties.

Opinion polls suggest that the alliance could clear the 5 percent of the total vote needed to enter the German lower house of parliament, and drain left-wing votes from Schroeder's Social Democrats, who currently trail far behind the conservative opposition.

Associated Press

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